by April 12, 2002 0 comments

With so much talk about wireless LANs, their advantages, implementation and availability, the bottom line remains ‘Show me the money involved’. For somebody who is planning to put up a wireless LAN solution in a new establishment or even expand the LAN of an existing office and provide mobility to its laptop users, price issues form an important part of the decision making process. 

Here we shall look at the various cost components involved in implementing a wireless LAN solution. The cost of such a solution can be divided into two parts–cost of the hardware and the licensing costs. Another component is the cost of training and maintenance. Let us look at each one of them.

The hardware 
The basic hardware needed is an access point, PCMCIA cards for notebooks and PC adaptor cards for desktop machines. You may also need some additional cabling to be done to place multiple access points throughout your office building. If you already have a network in place, you will need extension connectors for these access points. The vendor gives you just the access points and the wireless NICs. Plus, other devices like wireless Internet cameras, presentation gateways, and print servers are also available.

Looking at the indicative pricing of these hardware components, we found that access points are in a price range of Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000. For PCMCIA cards, the prices are roughly Rs 12,000 a piece. A PCI adaptor card that fits into your PC and takes in a PCMCIA NIC is roughly Rs 5000. This works out to a cost of around Rs 54,000—60,000 for one access point, one laptop user and one desktop user. Solutions from vendors like D-Link and SureCom are in this range. There are more expensive solutions also available from players like Cisco. Its wireless kit consisting of an access point and two PCMCIA cards costs a whopping Rs 105,000.

The licenses
Several stringent regulations apply here and there are a multitude of licenses to be acquired when dealing with a wireless network. These include a type approval, import license, dealer license, end-user license, stock and selling license, etc. Thankfully all of them, except for the end-user license, are the vendor’s headache. You just need to get the end-user license. 

The end-user site license is granted after verifying the bona fides of the end-user and after the other licensing formalities are completed. It is done after site verification and is only issued on a per site basis. This is an annual license and a license fee needs to be paid to WPC annually. This license costs Rs 18,000 per annum. 

Also note that before you can apply for the site license, you will need to get site clearances from several government agencies in the country including the IB, RAW, DoT and Police. Out of these, most are handled by WPC upon receipt of the Type Approval application. DoT/ BSNL also needs to provide a no-objection certificate (NOC) when the bandwidth requirement of the proposed wireless application exceeds 64 Kbps. However, the manufacturer needs to procure this certificate.

Ashish Sharma

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